Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Korea Musings: Recycling

On another note, when I was in Korea, at one of the largest supermarkets, Lotte Mart, I bought some Dove shampoo there. In my experience of buying shampoo, at any supermarket in the US, I have about 10 brands at least to choose from (or that's how it feels..). In Lotte Mart (mind you this is equivalent to a Walmart), there were maybe three brands to choose from. The nice thing about these shampoos was they all had bottles with pumps and right next to those bottles were bags of refill shampoo. I have not bought shampoo in the US in a while, so I don't know if this has changed suddenly, but it was so refreshing to see.

Living in Korea, everyone is not necessarily more self conscious of recycling, but it is more of a normality. They separate plastics, foods, paper, metals, and "other" in their homes, fast-food restaurants, and cafes.

And although Korea seems to be very consumer-oriented, they are accustomed to saving.
1. Energy: My workplace, Continuum, had a checklist for making sure all the lights, computers, printers were turned off before the last person left the office. It would seem like every office would do this, but in the two other offices I worked at, at least half my co-workers would leave their computers on to suck energy.
2. Space: Seoul is a city of over 10 million people. Most families live in apartments, which are already high cost.
3. Things: Using and reusing until something is completely unusable isn't common. Why not get your money's worth out of what you paid for?

At the Seoul Design Olympiad, strings of recyclables on the Olympic Stadium.

It's pretty fascinating that despite Seoul-ans keeping up-to-date with all trends (Every year.. O.O), still have the concept recycling and efficient use/space/energy ingrained in their daily lifestyle.

*I'm pretty sure most of Asia has this kind of thinking too..^^;


joonkyung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joonkyung said...

Whoops. I was trying to edit the comment and deleted it. Anyhoo. What I was trying to say is that mass behavior change seems most effective when it directly threatens one's financial capitol. In other words... when the government steps in and makes it a law, people will change. Not design..but money changes behavior. This makes me wonder, it just might be true that design cannot change the world. Sometimes, forceful action works better..

Michael said...

I saw the same things is Osaka. Plenty of brands, but everyone had a bag SKU next to a bottle. Refilling is popular and common.

The way it was explained to me is because there is so much less space in Japan. Less space for people, less space for trash (they burn theirs). There are probably other factors as well.